2007 RECORD: 10-3; BIG 12: 5-3
Won Holiday Bowl vs. Arizona St. 52-34
LOCATION: Austin, Texas
STADIUM: Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (93,553)
HEAD COACH: Mack Brown
OVERALL: 189-99-1 (24 seasons)
AT TEXAS: 103-25 (10 seasons)
Under headman Mack Brown, the ‘Horns have won 10 or more games seven straight seasons. However, despite registering double digit wins in 2007, something seemed to be a bit off in Texas, and it’s not just because they lost to Oklahoma and Texas A & M for the first time since 1993—five years before Mack Brown arrived in Austin. It’s the fact that UT was fortunate to pull out wins against Arkansas St., Central Florida and a 5-7 Nebraska team…for some reason, they did not play to their full potential until their bowl victory over No. 12 Arizona St.
WHEN THE HORNS HAVE THE BALL
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Greg Davis (11th Season)
OFFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 7
KEY LOSSES: Jamaal Charles, Limas Sweed, Jermichael Finley, Nate Jones, Tony Hills, Dallas Griffin
Until more playmakers emerge at the skill positions, the ‘Horns could be hard pressed to match last season’s output of over 37 points per game. It is difficult to replace the likes of WR Limas Sweed, TE Jermichael Finley and RB Jamaal Charles, particularly when Charles and Finley had eligibility remaining. Early departures are not the norm in Austin; a staple of Mack Brown’s success has been keeping star players like Ricky Williams and Roy Williams around for four years. The offensive line returns four starters and if they can play a higher level on a consistent basis, it will go a long way toward bringing the ‘Horns success. They appear to be set at quarterback with junior Colt McCoy, although some viewed his 2007 season as a sophomore slump. That’s somewhat understandable considering his touchdown passes dropped from 29 to 22 and his interceptions jumped from seven to 18. However, as long as all the other pieces fall into place, McCoy should have a bounce back season.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) OT Adam Ulatoski (JR), 2) OG Cedric Dockery (SR)
WHEN THE OTHER TEAM HAS THE BALL
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR: Will Muschamp (1st Season)
DEFENSIVE STARTERS RETURNING: 5
KEY LOSSES: Frank Okam, Marcus Griffin, Scott Derry, Derek Lockey, Robert Killebrew, Brandon Foster, Erick Jackson
They lose a lot of production, but the ‘Horns are not lacking talent. The front seven has as much potential as any in the nation and it is time for highly touted recruits such as DT Lamarr Houston, DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, as well as linebackers Jared Norton and Roddrick Muckelroy to break out. That quartet has star potential. Not to be overlooked, senior ends Brian Orakpo and Aaron Lewis, DT Roy Miller and MIKE Rashad Babino have some ability as well. The secondary has more uncertainty and is coming off a season that saw Texas allow a school record 3,611 passing yards on their way to giving up more than 25 points per game. Keep an eye on junior CB Deon Beasley, a potential lockdown cover corner.
TOP PROSPECTS: 1) LB/DE Sergio Kindle (JR), 2) DL Lamarr Houston (JR)
The out of conference schedule may be tougher than you think. They open up with Florida Atlantic, led by head coach Howard Schnellenberger and strong-armed signal caller Rusty Smith. The upstarts from the Sunshine State are coming to Austin to get a “W” and nothing less. UT also plays host to the new look Arkansas Razorbacks, who shocked the ‘Horns the last time they visited (38-28 in 2003). Gone are Nebraska, Kansas St. and Iowa St. (13-33 combined in ’07), replaced by Missouri, Kansas and Colorado (30-10 combined in ’07)—so the conference schedule is more challenging as well. Last but not least, they take on the Sooners in the second Saturday in October—a game that usually decides the Big 12 South—as well as instate rivals A & M on Thanksgiving night. In other words, reaching 10 wins again won’t be easy.
Fresh Faces: Most of the coaching staff has been at Texas for at least three seasons. Even more impressive is the fact that five coaches, including OC Greg Davis, are going into their 11th season in Austin under Mack Brown—the Longhorns are a better team because of that continuity. The two new faces are Will Muschamp and Major Applewhite, a young old face if there ever was one. Muschamp has a championship pedigree, having led the nation’s best defense at LSU when the Tigers won a national title in 2003. He’s spent the last two seasons leading one of the nation’s best defenses at Auburn. How much of difference will he make with the likes of Kindle, Norton and Muckelroy? Muschamp coaches the linebackers so it could be significant. Applewhite is an assistant HC and running backs coach, so he’ll be very much involved in the search to replace Charles. While the continuity they have is important, the infusion of new blood could be just what the doctor ordered.
CFI FINAL ANALYSIS
Most people look at the Longhorns and are a bit confused: Are they a highly touted but underachieving bunch, or a talented group that is ready to blossom? Time will tell. The horses are there, but the competition is tough—the Big 12 is no longer a two-horse race between UT and OU. They should jump out of the gates strong, but how they perform midway through the season will decide what they will be playing for down the stretch. Texas could end up winning the Big 12 this season, but there are too many question marks heading into the season to make them the favorite.
Photo Credit: UT Photography
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
2007 RECORD: 10-3; BIG 12: 5-3